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Rafi Naushad Era, The Initial Years

This article is written by Mr. Nitish Sinha

Naushad and Mohd RafiRafi Naushad combination is the best thing that happened in the world of Hindi film Music.Rafi as the best playback singer ever and Naushad as the the best ever Music Director(sorry, if someone has objection in accepting him as best MD), and the combination of both resulting some of the best ever songs of HFM. This combination started their magic in 1944 with the song HINDUSTAN KE HUM HAI for the film Pahle Aap and climax was with the song JIS RAAT KE KHWAB AAYE in 1980 for the ever incomplete film Habba khatoon.

It is ironical to note that the magic of Naushad saab came to an end after the departure of Rafi Saab. It does not means that Naushad saab’s ability to compose marvellous songs came to an end after 1980 but actually nobody was there to sing his composition in the perfect way as Rafi Saab usually does.


During his struggle period someone introduce Rafi saab to the father of Naushad Ali. Impressed by his singing, Naushad’s father sent Rafi to his son with a letter mentioning that he is a meritorious boy. Naushad saab did not turn down the request and allow him singing a chorus type song with Durrani, Shyam kumar, Allauddin, motiram etc for the film Pehle Aap(1944).

The song “hindostan ke hum hai hindostan humara, hindu muslim dono ki ankhoN ka tara“vwas to be picturised on Soldiers. As there was lacking technical facilities those days, it was decided that sound of the boots of the soldiers will be created originally.

Therefore all the singers was made to wear heavy army boots in their foot and they are asked to sing the song as well as to tap their foot as soldiers at the same time! Rafi Saab was only 19 years old at that time and his leg was badly damaged.

The song was recorded and Rafi Saab got Fifty rupees as his first earning. But this was just the begining of the journey! Rafi saab recorded two more songs for this film.


Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore, Lata all were great admirer of Sehgal and all of them have a dream of singing with him. However only Rafi Saab get this golden opportunity. Rafi always asked Naushad to allow him to sing a song with Sehgal. This dream of singing with Sehgal came into reality at the time of recording of the song “Ruhi ruhi ruhi mere sapno ki rani” (Lyric by Majrooh Sultanpuri) for the film SHAHJEHAN(1946) when two line of the song is sung by him. It is interesting to note that these two lines was picturised on Rafi Himself! Naushad always mentioned that he never sees Rafi saab so much happy as he was at the time of recording of this song with Sehgal.


NaushadPlayback singing is just not about singing like ghazal. Actually ADAYAGI=TO MOULD YOUR VOICE ACCORDING TO THE MOOD OF THE SONG AND ALSO ACCORDING TO THE STYLE OF THE CHARACTER ON WHICH THE SONG IS TO BE PICTURISED- is most important part of it.

Sehgal saab was a master of it but he was not a playback singer as most of the song sung by him was picturised on himself. Therefore it was not tough for him to catch the mood of the artist. Actually Rafi saab invented it, mixing the song with Adayagi… and the song was TERA KHILAUNA TOOTA BALAK TERA KHILAUNA TOOTA (Anmol Ghadi, 1946 , Mehboob Production, Naushad ,Tanvir Naqvi).

After using many a times Rafi Saab’s voice as a chorus Naushad saab came to the conclusion that his voice need something more than it. TERA KHILAUNA TOOTA…… was first solo sung by him for Naushad Ali. This song was not picturised on the hero of the film but on a Toy-seller but one can find all the characteristic of a toy seller in the Voice of Rafi Saab. This was the actual begining of the PLAYBACK SINGING!


from Mela(1948) was another milestone…. Rafi saab was already a established singer in 1948 but Naushad Ali did not yet switch over completely to Rafi Saab. Actually there were 12 songs in this film (sung by Rafi, Shamshad, Zohrabai and Mukesh) and only one song was sung by Rafi.

But this one song was enough for him to show his range, his height, his aalap, his taan. This song was something different from Naushad’s earlier compositions and it seems that he composed this song just to test and taste Rafi’s range!

And HE pass this test with distinction! Ye zindgi ke mele (lyric:Shakeel) along with Ek dil ke tukde hazar hue (Pyar ki jeet;1948;husnalal bhagatram;Qamar jalalabadi) grasp the entire nation with Rafimania in 1948 and then forever!


In 1949 four films, Andaz, Chandani Raat, Dillagi and Dulari, were released in which music scored by Naushad sahab. In Dillagi, Rafi Saab sung two solo. Actually this was the first time when Naushad used his voice for the main lead.

The songs were Is dunia me ai dilwalo dil ka lagana khel nahi Ulfat karna khel hai lekin karke nibhana khel nahi and Tere kuche mein armano ki dunia leke aaya hoon Tujhi par jaan dene ki tamanna leke aya hoon, both songs were filmed on Shyam kumar. These two song have somethin special for myself. These are the songs which made me A Rafian forever.

In Chandani Raat Rafi sings at least three songs, again filmed on Shyam.

However in Andaz, Naushad uses rafi’s voice for just one song (yu to aapas me bigadte hai khafa hote hai/milne wale kabhi ulfat me juda hote hai) and this was a duet with Lata. This was the first duet of Rafi and Lata under Naushad Ali. Unique thing of this film was that mukesh’s voice was used for Dilip Kumar and Rafi playbacked for Raj Kapoor! In later year this arrangement was reversed, Mukesh became a regular playback for Raj Kapoor and Rafi for Dilip Kumar!

Mohd Rafi and Naushad
Mohd Rafi and Naushad


This song is easily the first international hit from HFM. This song was became so much popular outside India that a number of myth became associated with this song.

It was believed to be the national song of a west indian country(trinidad n tobago/ surinaam) because of its immense poplarity untill recently. Even some of the journalists made a research to find the reality. Can one imagine any other song so much popular even outside India? Surely not.

This song was Rafi’s all time favourite. It was filmed on Suresh. There were some other popular songs in this film, sung by Rafi Saab with Lata: Raat rangili mast nazare …n mil mil ke gayenge.. but the popularity of Suhani Raat Dhal Chuki is unparellal. This tune was lifted by several MDs and used in almost all major South Indian languages, all attaining huge popularity.


It is indeed first and last film in which Naushad used the voice of Talat Mehmood prominently. Actually after this film Naushad used the voice of Talat only on two occassions; for the duet KAISI HASEEN AAJ (AADMI) with Rafi Sahab and another for multisinger song RAHEGA JAHAN ME TERA NAAM (Rafi,Talat, manna,Balbir for the film Love and God). However for KAISI HASEEN, Talat’s voice was replaced by Mahendra kapoor in film version!

No doubt, Talat Saab was a great singer, but it is said that once Naushad saw him smoking in the studio and so he decided to cut of his relation with him.

However the major reason for not choosing him was clearly that Naushad sahab at last found a singer who can sing any type of song with full masterly: from ‘Tara ri tara ri yara ri‘ type to ‘man tadpat‘ to ‘na mai bhagwan hoon‘ to ‘mere mehboob‘ to ‘nain lad jayeehen‘ to ‘ye gotedaar lehanga!

Anyway there are 12 songs in this film, sung by Rafi, Talat, Shamshad and Lata. Rafi Saab’s voice is used in one song, NADIA ME UTHA HAI SHOR CHHAI HAI GHATA GHANGHOR (co sung by Talat, Shamshad and chorus). One of the reason for using the voice of Talat in this film was the Hero of this film Dilip Kumar was associated with his voice till some years.
The reason of using the voice of Rafi for that one song was that it was the stablished fact at that time that “every film must contain a song in the high pitch sung by MOHAMMED RAFI”. Naushad Sahab once told that every producer started directing their music directors to put a high pitch song in the voice of Rafi as a must!

DEEDAR(1951) & DEEWANA(1952)

And at last RAFI-DILIP-NAUSHAD magic got started which continued till 1968 venture AADMI. This was the first film in which Naushad saab uses the voice of Rafi saab for Dilip saab for all the songs and every song of this film was nothing else than than the best! Three immortal solos HUE HUM JINKE LIYE BARBAAD, NASEEB DAR PE TERE and MERI KAHANI BHULNEWALE, one duet with lata, DEKH LIYA MAINE and also the short one BACHPAN KE DIN BHULA NA DENA. G.M.Durrani, who was among the top singers in 1944, and a Naushad favourite, got the second fiddle with the only song, a duet with shamshad NAZAR PHERO NA HUMSE.

In DEEWANA, Rafi saab sung one song TASVEER BANATA HOON, picturised on chandrasekher, for whom Rafi saab sung a number of great songs.


At this time, Rafi Saab was already the most sought after singer, however he was still not satisfied with his performance, as naushad saab said,- “Rafi those days used to feel concerned that, though singing extensively, he had not been able to create the same impact as Talat Mehmood or Mukesh. ‘Well, here’s your chance“, I said. ‘This Baiju Bawra theme offers you the kind of vocal challenge which, if you meet, you will find yourself made for life.‘ Of course in saying that, I could not know, at the time, that the film would become an all-time musical classic”. And he was certainly reffering the film BAIJU BAWRA, each song of which is a separate story in itself……..!

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68 Blog Comments to “Rafi Naushad Era, The Initial Years”

  1. I am a great fan of Mohammad Rafi. No other male artist I like so much.
    I sing also. The maximum songs I can sing are of Mohammad Rafi. I am 62
    and still I can sing. I like the songs from 1950 to 1965 only.After Rafi I like
    Asha Bhosale and Lata Mangeshkar.
    Chandrashekhar P Athalye

  2. ashish kapoor says:

    hi all rafi fans and lovers,
    there is a singer from hoshiarpur and his name is ramtirath. he sings exactly like rafi sahab. he is classically trained and is comfortable singing any type of song. a.s murty sahab has also heard him sing at “yaadgaar-e-rafi society” chandigarh.
    ramtirath is a regular guest singer at our annual programmes held on 31st july in delhi. one has to hear him to actually recognise his talent. his quality of voice and range is tremendous. he can be contacted at 09417374275 and 09872904464.
    ashish kapoor, , vice president , rafi foundation memorial society (regd), delhi, 09810087414, 09212587414

  3. Pankaj Agnihotri says:

    Rafi fans had a blast at Jaipur where singer Shrikant Narayan presented some classics in the august presence of composer Ravi. I agree with the other fans who have posted their comments about Shrikant. I heard him for the first time and was extremely impressed. He is the closest rafi clone i have heard till date. What a range he has. My god it was a sheer delight.

  4. anitha says:

    It was brilliant show. Hats off to Shrikant Narayan for rendering rafisaabs immortal songs. Highlight of the evening was ‘Akele akele kahan ja rahe ho from An Evening in Paris and the rare gem ‘Kali ke roop mein’ from Nau Do Gyarah. Hope we get to hear many such wonderful musical nites from Rajesh Subramanian and Musicolor.

  5. Karthik C says:

    Musicolor organised a grand musical evening titled ‘Mohammed Rafi – The Legend… hits of Dev Anand & Shammi Kapoor’ at vile parle’s Dinanath Mangeshkar hall. The programme will featured Rafi hits of evergreen romantic stars Dev Anand & Shammi Kapoor. Singer Srikhant Narayan, who has earned the title ‘Voice of Mohammed Rafi’, presented the compositions from films like Tere Ghar Ke Samne, Dil Tera Diwana, Guide, Junglee, Brahmachari, Jewel Thief, An Evening in Paris, Bambai Ka Babu, Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Kala Bazaar, Dil Deke Dekko, Hum Dono, Teesri Manzil, Kala Pani, Kashmir Ki Kali. The jam packed auditorium reverberated with outstanding songs rendered beautifully by Shrikant like ‘Kabhie khud pe’, ‘Akele akele kahan ja rahi ho’, ‘Din dhal jaye’, ‘Nazar bachakar’, ‘Apni toh har aah ek thoofan hai’, ‘Kisi na kisi se’, ‘Aise toh na dekho’, ‘Janam janam ka sath hai’, ‘Diwana mujhsa nahin’. Actor Jackie Shroff, a great Mohd Rafi fan, graced the occasion and wished Shrikant good luck and also added that these song gems are eternal and will continue to enthrall music lovers for several decades. An ardent fan Gopal Sura presented Shrikant a rare photograph of Rafi singing at a private mehfil. Well known music conductor Ajay Madan wielded the music baton while Pune based anchor Sandeep Panchwatkar hosted the programme and won the audience. Shrikant was ably supported by singer Vrushali Patil in the duets like ‘Diwana mastana’, ‘Diwana hua badal’, ‘Dil pukare’, ‘Bade hain dil ke kale’, ‘Kali ke roop mein’, ‘Aawaz deke’, ‘Dheere dheere chal’, ‘Mujhe kitna pyar hai‘, ‘Achchaji main hari’, ‘Sar par topi’, ‘Leke pehla pehla pyar’, ‘Abhi na jao chhod ke’, ‘Ek ghar banuanga’, ‘Tujhe jeevan ki dor se’, ‘Aaja aaja main pyar tera’. One of the highlights of the evening was when Shrikant prodded the entire audience to sing ‘Diwana hua badal’ from Kashmir Ki Kali along with him. The event was conceived and designed by Rajesh Subramanian of Musicolor, who added that the overwhelming support of music lovers have bolstered their confidence to a great extent. With this event Shrikant Narayan has added yet another feather in his already crowded cap. “It’s god’s grace and the sheer love of music lovers”, quips the humble crooner.

  6. Rita Ravindran says:

    Hello friends,

    Musicolor is organizing a grand musical evening titled ‘Mohammed Rafi – The Legend…hits of Dev Anand & Shammi Kapoor’ on Friday, 9th October 2009 at Dinanath Mangeshkar hall, Vile Parle (East) at 8:30 pm. The programme will feature Rafi hits of evergreen romantic stars Dev Anand & Shammi Kapoor. Singer Srikhant Narayan will present the compositions ably supported by Vrushali Patil in the duets from films like Tere Ghar Ke Samne, Dil Tera Diwana, Guide, Junglee, Brahmachari, Jewel Thief, An Evening in Paris, Bambai Ka Babu, Tumsa Nahin Dekha, Kala Bazaar, Dil Deke Dekko, Hum Dono, Teesri Manzil, Kala Pani, Kashmir Ki Kali…. Ajay Madan is the music arranger while Sandeep Panchwatkar will host the programme

  7. nitish says:

    ref post#55
    shukriya murty sir for your kind words………….

  8. Sonal Patel says:

    Musicolor presented a marvellous musical nite featuring songs of S D Burman & O P Nayyar at C C Mehta Auditorium in Baroda on 14th and 15th May. The prog featured several Mohd Rafi classics like Apni toh har aah ek thoofan hai, pukarta chala hun main, Tere mere sapne, Aap ke haseen rukh pe, Diwana hua badal, Yun toh humne lakh haseen, Diwana mastana and Nache man mora. Singers Srikhant Narayan, Sagar Savarkar and Sarita Rajesh rendered the songs admist thunderous appluase from the audience. Rajesh Subramanian, of Musicolor, conceived the theme and designed the show while Baroda based group Mehfil presented the event.

  9. binu nair says:

    To N H HARI Re: Post 57…..: Yes. I do attend the Musicals which are held in Mumbai. The programmes are all well presented. No doubt about it.
    But we listeners need popular as well as good songs – not regularly held. Like the dil dekhe dekho one : HUM AUR TUM AUR YE SAMHA, KYA SUNA….(RAFI).

    i WAS SURPRISED TO KNOW that even hard core rafi fans (some) of them have not even heard this song. My point is : we must give a balanced mix of mood making popular songs along with great songs.

    because good songs never die…..

    binu nair, rafi foundation, mumbai……cell :0 9833 250 701

  10. Shridhar joglekar says:

    Yes fully with that Srikhant Narayan sings rafi classics like Bichde sabi bhari bhari and Yeh mehlon yeh takto brilliantly. i got to hear several Rafi gems by talented singer at the Guru Dutt programme organised by Mumbai band Musicolor. Sandeep Panchwatkar, the Pune based anchor, shared rare information and interesting anecdotes from Guru Dutt’s life. The show was a huge hit. interestingly several music lovers came all the way from Ahmedabad, Poona, Surat, Baroda and Chennai to attend the show. Great going guys. We look forward for more such concerts.

  11. ahmed javed says:

    Rajesh Subramanian and his troupe Musicolor will be performing for the first time in Bahrain on 8th and 9th May. The exclusive Mohammed Rafi shows will be a real treat for music lovers specially Rafi fans. Singer Srikhant Narayan and Sarita Rajesh will be presenting evergreen hits from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

  12. N H Hari says:

    Dear Binu Nair, What you say is right to a great extent but in a commercial scenario such songs will not be lapped up by the general audience, who are not die hard Rafi fans, who always hanker for popular ones. I don’t know whether you attended Musicolor’s concerts where Rafi gems like Kaise kategi zindagi tere bagair, Nazar bachakar kar, Sunle tu dil ki sada, Janam janam ka sath hai were presented. I have never seen any live shows were these compositions are presented. What appealed to me is that the songs received thunderous applause.

  13. binu nair says:

    Dear Music Concert Arrangers : I have attended some good musical events in mumbai. what i see is that the “same” songs of mohd rafi, madan mohan, naushad teken in events after events. repeated events after events.
    yes, any popular song will get appreciation and instant approval .

    these 200 odd something songs are easy to sing for the singer, the musicians and the organisers.
    Why cant atleast 5 diamonds good and great songs not commonly heard of mohd rafi, ghulam mohd , shankar jaikishan, salil and madan mohan and others – be taken is my poser to these singers and organisers.

    we had taken recently songs like : hum tum ye bahar, dekho rang laaya pyar from amber tuned by ghulam mohd sung by lata and rafi, usha khanna tuned hum aur tum aur ye bahar from dil dekhe dekho from mohd rafi, tara ree araree from dastaan, aa gale lag jaaa mere sapne mere apne from april fool, door rehkar na karo baatein kareeb aa jaao, nazar na lag jaaye from night in london, jhil mil sitaron ka aangan hoga from jeevan mrityu and many more.
    each and every song was greeted with “once more” echo in the halls. needless to say the hall was filled with “ardent mohd rafi fans”.

    please for a change give music lovers some hidden gems from the stables is the ardent call than playing the same tune – again and again – repeatedly.

    binu nair, rafi foundation, mumbai…. cell 9833 250 701

  14. A S MURTY says:

    Nitishbhai first of all hearty congratulations for this wonderful article. You have dished out so much information in one single article. This is what I would call a complete story. You have mentioned that Rafi Sahab “Actually Rafi saab invented it, mixing the song with Adayagi… and the song was TERA KHILAUNA TOOTA BALAK TERA KHILAUNA….”. How true. This is exactly what I have also always felt. Without sounding to be disrespectful to any other great singer before or after Rafi Sahab, I belong to the gharana which believes that Rafi Sahab was the real master singer. He got into the character unlike other singers who had many limitations themselves or never dared to experiment to invent. This one single virtue puts rafi sahab shoulders above the rest of the pack. Again when you say :: “”Playback singing is just not about singing like ghazal. Actually ADAYAGI=TO MOULD YOUR VOICE ACCORDING TO THE MOOD OF THE SONG AND ALSO ACCORDING TO THE STYLE OF THE CHARACTER ON WHICH THE SONG IS TO BE PICTURISED- is most important part of it. “” , I could not have agreed more with you. Kudos and keep it up.

  15. ravi ramamchandran says:

    Rajesh Subramanian of Musicolor is doing a yeomen service to lovers of vintage hindi film music. This thirty nine year old journalist conceives and designes theme based music shows that have been bumper hits. Programmes like Mohd Rafi – The Legend, Hits of Madan Mohan, Guru Dutt – The Genius, Teen Deviyan – Hits of Nargis, MAdhubala and Nutan, Evergreen hits of S D Burman & O P Nayyar, Kishore kUmar – The Versatile Genius are some of the successful programmes from the Musicolor stable that have enthralled music lovers in a big way. Rajesh Subramanian, the initiator, firmly believes that “people adore evergreen songs of the yore and we are presenting that in an unadulterated form.”

  16. sripath yagnesh says:

    Musicolor rocks ! The programme on Madan Mohan at Tejpal hall on Friday was marvellous. What song selection and presentation by the talented artistes of Musicolor. The show was conceived and designed by Rajesh Subrmanian, who deserves full credit for his awesome song selection which had the entire audience glued to their seats and applauding all through. Rafi fans like me were thrilled to bits when gems like Tumhari zulf ke saaye (Naunihaal), Teri ankhon ke siva (Chirag), Rang aur noor (Ghazal), Zameen se hamen aasman (Adalat) flawlessly presented by singer Shrikant Narayan. Amongst the female singers Sarita Rajesh enthralled the audience with her spirited rendtion of Hum hai mata e koocha, Aapki nazron ne samjaha, naino mein badra chaaye and Tere liye from Veera Zara. Musicolor keep it up and may you continue to entertain us with more such melodious events.

  17. Rita says:

    kudos to MUSIOLOR and Rajesh Subramanian, who conceived and designed the grand event, for organising a memorable programme featuring the songs of evergreen romantic actors Dev Anand and shammi Kapoor sung by the inimitable Rafisaab. The show was a real treat what with gems like Dil ka bhavar, Diwana hua badal, Apni toh har aah ek thoofan hai, Yun toh humne lakh haseen, Yeh ankhen uff yu maa, Diwana mastana, Dil pukare.Singers Shrikant Narayan and Sarita Rajesh stole the show with their outstanding rendition. A host of celebs like Ameen Sayani, yesteryears singer Sharada, actors Satish Shah and Summet Raghavan graced the event. As an icing on the cake Rafisaab’s daughter Nasreen arrived with his family members and the audience gave a thunderous applause. The Rafi clan has never attended any musical event since the great singers death. So this a wonderful compliment for Musicolor. Keep it up guys !

  18. Deepak Agnihotri says:

    To mark the 28th death anniversary of singing legend Mohammed Rafi a grand tribute was organised titled “Mohammed Rafi – The Legend” at ISKCON auditorium, Juhu. The 3 hour musical programme was a phenomenal show. Singer Shrikant Narayan belted out some of the finest numbers of the singing legend. Songs like Mohabbat zinda rehti hai, Meri kahani bhoolnewale, Nazar bachakar, Kisi na kisi se, and enthralled the audience. The immensly gifted singer Sarita Rajesh ably supported Shrikant in duets like Jeevan mein piya tera sath, Aaja ke intezaar mein, Dil pukare, Yeh ankhen uff yu ma and the classical Ajhun aaye balma. The programme was conceived and created by Rajesh Subramanian, the brian behind Musicolor.

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